HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Patients in the northern Richmond region who find themselves in a medical crisis, from Ashland to Caroline County, will have more readily available access to emergency help as early as 2025.

The Virginia Department of Health officially gave Bon Secours the green light to move forward with a project the healthcare system has had in the works for years.

When a medical emergency unfolds, minutes matter. John Emery, President of Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center is constantly monitoring that ticking clock.

“If you don’t feel well,” Emery said. “You want care as quickly as you can get.”

Over the past few months, 8News covered a contentious battle between Bon Secours and HCA Healthcare over who would bring the next medical facility to the Ashland area. Last month, Virginia’s Health Commissioner rejected HCA Healthcare’s proposed $234 million “Ashland Hospital.”

After a few weeks of waiting to see what happens next, the healthcare system learned the state’s Health Commissioner decided to permit Bon Secours to bring their vision for a 15,000-20,000 square foot free-standing emergency department — and imaging center — to life.

Rendering of another Bon Secours location that the healthcare system says is modeled similarly to projected designs for the newly approved emergency department in Ashland.

“Having the accessibility to life-saving interventions is what it’s all about,” Emery said.

Emery explained why getting that accessibility to Ashland was a top focus.

“Community resources that exist [in the town of Ashland] might not be as broad as like, say, Henrico County or the City of Richmond,” said Emery. “That one rig who’s out of service… getting them back in service quicker is life-changing for other members of that community.”

The new center, which Emery described as a lifeline, will have imaging capabilities and board-certified emergency physicians at hand. The facility will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“Healthcare — and the delivery of healthcare — is definitely a team sport,” Emery said.

It is important to note, this emergency department is not an urgent care center, nor is it a traditional hospital.

“An urgent care might be [open] eight [o’clock in the morning] to eight [o’clock in the evening] or might have more limited hours,” Emery said. “An emergency department is 100% there [for the community].”

Crews plan to break ground on the project in early 2024 and the Bon Secours aims to open the center’s doors to the community by 2025.